Des Moines resident Paden Nichols has been named one of more than 4,500 candidates in the 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

Inclusion in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is one of the highest honors bestowed upon graduating high school seniors. Scholars are selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character and involvement in community and school activities.

    • Candidates were selected from nearly 3.6 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools in the year 2021.
    • Nichols attended St. Francis of Assisi School in Burien, and is currently a senior at Seattle Preparatory School.
    • He’s also the grandson of Robert B. Nichols, who was a Mt. Rainier High School teacher and Des Moines resident for 30+ years.

The Scholars Program was established in 1964 by executive order of the President, “to recognize and honor some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors.”

In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts.

In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.

All graduating high school seniors who are citizens of the United States, or are Legal Permanent U.S. Residents, and have scored exceptionally well on either the SAT or the ACT college admission test during the window that begins in September, 2017 and runs through October, 2020 are automatically considered for participation. This program cycle concludes with recognition events held in June, 2021. Students who notified ACT or The College Board in writing that they did not want their scores released to outside agencies are excluded.

A distinguished panel of educators will review these submissions and select approximately 600 semifinalists in early April. The Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of up to 32 eminent citizens appointed by the President, will select the finalists, and the U.S. Department of Education will announce the Scholars in May.

If circumstances permit, all Scholars are invited to Washington, DC in June for the National Recognition Program, featuring various events and enrichment activities and culminating in the presentation of the Presidential Scholars Medallion during a White House-sponsored ceremony.

For more information about the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, parents and students can call the U.S. Presidential Scholars Office at 507.931.8345, or send an e-mail to [email protected].